Hilton Head Nearshore Charters
Best Nearshore Fishing Charter Experience On Hilton Head!
Fishing nearshore offers a bit more adventure and opportunity to fish for larger and sometimes more exciting fish. Some of the wrecks and artificial reefs off the beach of Hilton Head and Tybee Island often provide action packed fishing anywhere from 1-15 miles offshore. Most of the time we are still in sight of land, which is comforting to those who are prone to motion sickness. Light tackle and fly fishing is the standard with Awesome Adventure Charters but if the situation calls for it, we can break out the heavy gear and challenge the larger species to a dual. Nearshore fishing charters accommodate up to 4 anglers. All fishing gear is provided on your nearshore trip. For your safety and enjoyment, calm conditions are required for nearshore charters, however inshore charters are a great plan B when the conditions are rough. See our list of nearshore fish species available below. There’s nothing quite like hooking into big fish on light spinning tackle in the ocean!
Spanish Mackerel: Summer
SPANISH MACKEREL: Spanish Mackerel a blast on light tackle and fly rods! These Atlantic predators arrive April and are available through October. Spanish mackerel can be caught in the Port Royal Sound, Calibogue Sound, and on nearshore wrecks in the ocean. The larger Mackerel in the 5 pound range tend to stay in the ocean whereas the smaller 2 and 3 pounders migrate towards the marshlands. These are vicious predators with big appetites and a mouth full of little razor sharp teeth. Spanish mackerel feed almost constantly on small squid, anchovy minnows, and menhaden. It is not uncommon to retrieve a live bait that is cut clean in half by mackerel. There are many ways to catch spanish mackerel here around Hilton Head Island. The most interactive approach is to follow diving birds and blitzing baitfish. When the birds are working the bait, the mackerel are often underneath in a feeding frenzy. Casting spoons, gotcha plugs, and flies into these baitfish blitzes can be very productive. Another method we do very well with is live baiting over artificial reefs. With enough chumming, mackerel can be enticed to attack surface baits and put on quite a show! These green bullets are a great fight on light tackle and flyrods, but be sure your reels are loaded with line because these fish pull!
King Mackerel: Summer
KING MACKEREL: King Mackerel are fast swimming, high jumping, drag screaming machines! Hilton Head Island is not a big king mackerel destination but does provide some opportunity for trolling and light tackle enthusiasts. You are not likely to troll for anything with Awesome Adventure Charters so live baiting and live chumming is the name of the game. When king mackerel are present, its important to have plenty of live menhaden and plenty of patience. The most exciting time to hook king mackerel is while fishing for spanish mackerel on light tackle. These kings certainly stand out from the spanish mackerel with their acrobatics and blistering high speed runs.
Bluefish: Spring Summer & Fall
BLUEFISH: Bluefish are a lot of fun to catch whether your a little kid, or an elite fly fisherman. The bluefish around Hilton Head, SC average 1-6lbs and are not hard to entice. Silver spoons, shiny flies, and even live bait can get you hooked up to some bluefish. When bluefish are traveling in large schools, it can be very productive to drift around the school and cast lures and flies into tidal rips and around sandbars or other structure. Small bluefish make great bait for other predatory fish such as cobia, bull redfish, tarpon, and sharks. Loading up the bait well with little “snapper blues” on light tackle and using them as bait for the more challenging target species is a lot of fun! Come on and lets catch em’ up!
Bull Redfish: Fall
BULL REDFISH: After juvenile redfish grow for several years in our low country salt marshes, they head out into the Atlantic ocean for the remainder of their lives. These now “bull redfish” live in large schools and return to the sounds and rivers around Hilton Head Island, Tybee Island, and Beaufort once a year during the Fall to spawn. These bull reds arrive in mid to late September and are abundant until December. Most bull redfishing is done in 15+ ft of water with live, cut, and even large artificial baits. Bull redfish in the Hilton Head Island area average 25-30lbs with an occasional 40lb female! During the bull red season, it is not uncommon to catch 10-20 large spawning fish in one spot. These reds are hard fighting, head shaking, drag peeling machines and are sure to put a smile on any angler’s face.DCIM100GOPRO Preferred tackle for these large redfish is medium heavy/heavy action spinning or casting rods with 30-50lb braided line, 50-100lb fluorocarbon leaders, and 6/0-8/0 circle hooks. Though it is a blast to catch 30lb fish on our light spinning gear, the heavier tackle is necessary to get these bulls to the boat quickly for a healthy release. Other species frequently caught while bull redfishing include a wide array or sharks, rays, and even large tarpon (hence the heavier fluorocarbon leaders).
Jack Crevalle: Summer & Early Fall
JACK CREVALLE: It doesn’t get much more exciting than jack crevalle fishing in Hilton Head! Large schools of adult jack crevalle swim into Port Royal Sound, Calibogue Sound, and off the beaches starting in May and will stay around until around October when the water cools. These fish range from 20-40lbs of pure muscle and are sure to break a sweat on even the most experienced anglers. These schools swim the surface in calm conditions and are noticeable to the trained eye. Sometimes you will see what looks like a river moving through a calm slick of water and sometimes only an inch or two of their yellow, sickle-shaped tail fins are visible above the water. Once you locate these monster jacks, you have a variety of offerings they are likely to explode on. Many favor large offshore poppers and lipless crank baits because these baits are large, noisy, bright, and they just plain get eaten! The ultimate way to catch a giant jack crevalle is on a big popper fly. There is just nothing like watching a dozen jacks break away from the school and compete for your fly in a fast, splashing yellow blur! Once you hook up on an adult jack crevalle, you’d better clear your schedule because these brutes will peel 100 yards of line on their first run and then sound down to the bottom for as long as they can stand. My tackle of choice for giant jacks are the same spinning rods as I use for tarpon, St. Croix Tidemaster Heavy 8 footers with 6000 size reels full of 50lb braided line. These rods launch plugs accurately and have the backbone to break a jack crevalle’s spirit. For fly gear I use 10-12wt Sage xi3 rods loaded with Rio floating tarpon lines. These larger rods and lines will help get the extra distance casting those larger poppers or streamers, and you’ll be glad you brought the 12wt once you hook one! Getting these fish unhooked and back into the water quickly is critical to the fish’s survival, because a large jack crevalle on light enough tackle can literally fight themselves to death. Don’t miss your chance at a fish of a lifetime, let’s go get one!
Ladyfish: Summer & Fall
LADYFISH: The poor man’s tarpon! These slender beauties make fast runs with impressive aerial antics! What a fun fish to throw artificial lures and flies at all summer long!
Black Sea Bass: Year Round
BLACK SEA BASS: BSB are smaller offshore fish that readily eat jigs and other lures on the nearshore artificial reefs. These Sea Bass are about as tasty as they come!
SHEEPSHEAD: A great tasting fish that frequents old dock pilings and rock walls. Toss a live fiddler crab to these big saltwater panfish and get ready to set the hook!
Shark: Spring Summer & Fall
SHARK: The inshore waters of the lowcountry are loaded with sharks (28 different species) ranging form 12 inches to 12 feet! You can always count on an encounter from one of these toothy critters between May and Novermber.
Cobia: May & June
COBIA: The Spring cobia run here in Hilton Head Island makes for a very unique cobia fishing experience. These highly migratory fish enter the sounds on each side of Hilton Head Island in May and stay around through June. Port Royal Sound is the most important spawning grounds on the East coast and has very high concentrations of spawning fish. Cobia grow to about 1oo pounds and average 20-40 pounds around Hilton Head. The larger of these fish of course are the females which carry bellies full of roe. Cobia are interesting looking to say the least, like a cross between a catfish and a shark. Many (too many) value cobia as table fare and most end up being sold to restaurants around the island. These large brown predators are being over harvested in our area and their population is dropping at an alarming rate. While some hunt cobia for meat, we hunt cobia for the thrill of hooking a 50 pounder on fly and light tackle only a few hundred yards from the marsh! As cobia overeat and get full, they approach the surface to utilize the warmer temperatures for digestion. When tides are slow and winds are calm, large cobia can be seen quite a ways away as they send out their own wake across the surface, like a small brown submarine. These cobia are not the smartest fish in our waters so as long as your offering is in sight of a surface cobia, you have a pretty good chance at a hook-up. Medium heavy spinning gear loaded with 30lb braided line and 10-12wt fly rods are my go-to for inshore cobia sight casting. Large eel imitations and large saltwater plugs are often eaten at first glance. Live bait of course is almost a done deal if placed in front of a curious cobia. Brightly colored flies that imitate eels and large baitfish work well in white, green, orange, and red. This fishery is very seasonal so mark your calendar and lets go sight cast a huge cobia!